Argentina, Jujuy Province, In Tent with Chariot under Stars, 2010, IMG 6231r5
Argentina, Jujuy Province, In Tent with Chariot under Stars, 2010, IMG 6231r5

Argentina, Jujuy Province, In Tent with Chariot under Stars, 2010, Image 6231r5 In this photograph, I lay in my tent, a mere silhouette. In front is my chariot, used to pull water across the Altiplano of South America. In this time exposure, the stars are shown as trails in the sky, a result of the turning of the earth. Alone, I felt exalted. My mind was free to travel where it would, as is exampled by that evening’s journal entry. I wrote of the journey as if it was a dream…. November 29, 2010 – trailhead to the Golden Road, before the Quebrada de Humahuaca, on the way to Tilcara, on my walk across the Andes and Altiplano of South America … 11:24 p.m. It was nighttime. I was in my tent. I looked out at the night sky through my porthole, the silhouette of the mountains, almost completely black. On the horizon, there was just a bit of color, a bit of light. But it wasn’t from a city. I don’t think it was from the moon. The light was in the west and the moon was in the east. Did I ever really take the time before to look at the sky? I did. I did do that. And ponder, like man and women have done - and children - from the beginning of time, to look at the sky and wonder what it all means - all these heavenly bodies. In the day-to-day bustle now, who takes the time? And, anyway, the city lights, they dim out the stars. It’s as if civilization kills everything. As if it obscures the clarity of our vision…. I was warm and cozy inside the tent. I had hot chocolate. (Chocolate and coffee. Chocolate and coffee. It keeps me going.) I had walked up towards the pass, up and up in the late afternoon until the sun fully set. But the sky. You know, the sky, even though the sun fully sets, the sky is a great illuminator. And I walked with my camera and my cart, my camera dangling around my neck, and I stopped and I saw this incredible road, heading to the northeast towards what appeared to be Tilcara. How could I be sure? But I had to make camp there just in case in the morning somebody came by. And I could ask them if this road indeed went to Tilcara. How wonderful. It was like a golden road. It was winding and heading straight to the northeast, exactly where I wanted to go. I couldn’t pass it up. I had planned to walk during the night. I had planned to “cover some ground,” “make some progress,” but, it’s a dream, and in a dream, you don’t need to make progress! You do as you need to do. So I made camp, and I filled myself up with hot liquids, and then the wind died down. It was totally calm. I shot a night photograph of the sky, with my tent and my cart. I had no one to answer to. I had no phone calls to make, other than the ones that I really wanted to make, which only involved love. I had no emails to answer. I left all that behind. Tonight was all mine. All mine. I felt like a king, so many times over, I felt like the lord of the earth. I felt like the lord of the sky. Oh, well, you can criticize me for using these words, king, lord, sovereign. This kind of concept is not in vogue, but it’s my dream, and in my dream, I felt like the lord of all the things in the things in the sky and the earth. I felt in touch and communion with everything, at one with everything, in a mutual harmony, in a fine balance that could not be disturbed if my attitude was right, which it was, because I appreciated everything in my dream. I just lay down against one elbow propping my body up, with my head resting on my shoulder, looking out at the sky, feeling unbelievable. I reached out and I touched the stars. I grabbed a whole bunch of them with my hand and pulled them into my tent, and then I opened my hand and I (phew!) blew them towards the hill, and they bounced off the hill and back into the sky. On my walk, I felt I could do anything. I talked earlier about feeling fear of death and feeling no fear of death. And the difference was, when I was completely happy, and completely in touch with my own nirvana, completely satisfied, although I value life and although I cherish every moment, and I want to live forever - and there’s no proof that I won’t! - but death, it seemed no different than life, because I was completely whole.

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